Jeffrey Yoo Warren

Ancestral Memory Enclaves: Diasporic memory and relational reconstruction

In this workshop series, using “memory objects” – photos from personal archives of one’s family, chosen family, and/or historical records – as windows into ancestral moments, participants employ digital tools to speculatively re-create the space – and the feeling – around the view visible in each photo. Inspired by the re-existencia work of Kazakh artists Aisha Jandosova and Aida Issakhankyzy, the YA literature of Linda Sue Park, and the speculative fiction of Octavia Butler’s Patternmaster series, we talk through different approaches to remembering and being in relationship with ancestral stories – through craft, through narrative, through sensory practices and through spatial reconstruction – and their meanings to those of us with minoritized or diasporic identities seeking re-connection or re-unification.

a video of a blurry black and white photo of my mom playing in the snow in Seoul, steam rising from a chimney in the distance and fluffy snow falling slowly from a dark sky

Using relational reconstruction techniques developed in the Seeing Providence Chinatown project, each participant builds a virtual 3D space of care, based on a photo of their choosing, within an environment hosted on Mozilla Hubs.

Ancestral Memory Enclaves is facilitated by Jeffrey Yoo Warren and was first presented as part of CultureHub’s Re-Fest 2022 in partnership with AS220. Brandi Kinard assisted in facilitating Workshop 2. Work on multisensory reconstruction continues in collaboration with Ann Chen.

A video starting with a black and white photo of a group of Korean people dressed in white all posing on a riverbank, one with a shovel and the others holding ropes tied to the shovel, so that all nine can use it together. Others, including some kids, stand in the background. Houses visible across the village.

CultureHub Oct 2022 residency

At the end of October 2022, Ann Chen and I hosted a week-long series of workshops at CultureHub in NYC, including an ancestral memory enclave workshop, while incorporating mask-making, speculative sound, and an in-person full-size projection space to the project. By embedding the sounds and VR scenes into headsets within the masks we crafted, each mask became a “memory portal” to access and experience that moment. Thanks again to Brandi Kinard for assistant-facilitating.

Read more on our blog post.

A visitor wears a cardboard tiger head mask, holding it steady by reaching into its mouth, while a group in the background sits looking at a projected 3D scene of brick walls and vegetation.

A group faces each other in the dark CultureHub studio, one wearing a cardboard washbasin on their head, while another wears a multicolored Korean crown covered with snack wrappers. Ann looks on from the back, wearing a mask.

Jeffrey Yoo Warren is an artist, community scientist, illustrator, and researcher in Providence, Rhode Island.